Tuesday, November 5, 2013

National Journal: "What if we redrew state boundaries?"

The new issue of the National Journal includes a fun "what-if" piece on how the boundaries of the U.S. states might be better drawn if it were possible to do such a thing.

Staff writer Alex Steitz-Wald writes:
Federalism is a wonderful idea, but it can't be entirely realized with the current map. States are meant to act as "guardians of a common interest," as James Madison wrote in Federalist 46, but common interests—whether economic, cultural, or political—are often split by antiquated and arbitrary state lines.
And, I'm pleased to say, he goes on to introduce the cultural fissures described in American Nations and quotes from our discussion last month. Here's an excerpt of the latter:
Any sensible map, says author Colin Woodard, should ignore the existing political borders in favor of the country's latent cultural fault lines that developed organically over hundreds of years of colonialism and expansion. "There has never been one America but several Americas, each with their own cultural values and unique takes on what the American experiment should be," says Woodard, the author of American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. New England Yankees, for instance, have a communitarian streak dating back to the days when their Puritan ancestors crossed the Atlantic in search of a theological utopia. Meanwhile, the Scots-Irish who populated the remote hollers of Appalachia brought with them a fiery libertarianism evident in today's tea-party movement.
Indeed. But I've said too much already: read his piece for more on my own and other people's thoughts on this topic. (And if you missed my recent Tufts Magazine cover story on the American Nations and violence, you might want to check that out too.)

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